Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How to Save a Ton of Money on Auto Painting

Auto painting can be quite expensive if you want to have a really great paint job. Of course, you can find shops that offer really cheap paint jobs but auto painting is one of the situations where you truly get what you pay for.

A cheap paint job will look cheap. The shop will spend little time properly masking the areas that shouldn't have paint applied. You've probably seen a car where the trunk lock was painted; the formerly shiny chrome door handles were painted over; that is what you get when you elect to get really cheap auto painting.

However, you can get a great paint job and save money by doing some of the work yourself. About 90% of the cost of auto painting is the preparation before paint is applied to the car. This offers you an opportunity to save money on your paint job if you don't mind doing some hard work.

When you visit the auto paint shop, ask what you can do to prepare the car and reduce the price of the painting. Many shops will reduce the price if you remove chrome parts in advance. They may reduce the price if you clean the surface and remove old silicone-based wax and grease. To do this, you purchase a good quality wax and grease remover and find a well-ventilated place to work. Don't perform this task in a closed garage because the fumes can be hazardous.

You can also remove old wax and grease using scrubbing pads or an abrasive household cleaner like Comet. Use a bit of caution with these procedures because it is really easy to scratch chrome or even glass.

Another step you may be able to perform yourself is the feathering of scratches and paint chips. These areas must be smoothed and evened out using sand paper. The initial sanding can be performed with 80 or 100 grit and change to finer and finer sand paper until the final sanding touches are done with 220 grit.

Ask the body shop if you can do some of the larger masking yourself. Masking is simply the process of placing painter's tape over areas that should not be painted. Some body shops will not guarantee the quality of paint if you mask the car or any part of it yourself, so be sure this will actually save you money without infringing on the paint guarantee.

Critically Important Emergency Equipment for Your Car

Every vehicle should have certain emergency items on hand at all times. Should you be involved in a break down or other emergency, the items you have in your car can save your life.

Always have a spare tire and jack that are in proper working condition to allow you to get back on the road in case of a flat tire or damaged tire. Carry jumper cables in your trunk in case you accidentally run your battery down by leaving the lights on or other items in the car. These items should be in the trunk of your car at all times.

It is a good idea, if you live in areas where cold weather occurs, to always carry a blanket or two in your trunk as well in case you are stranded without being able to run the car engine for heat. If you do run a car engine for heat, be sure to allow the fumes to escape and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning which can kill a person very quickly.

Carry a basic tool kit in your trunk that includes screwdrivers, wrenches, and a socket set suitable for your vehicle, and other items. Spare fuses should be included in case a blown fuse prevents your lights from working. A tail lamp or even a headlight is not a bad addition if you are traveling extensively. If you are mechanically inclined, you might include a set of belts and hoses as well.

At all times, you should have a set of flares in your vehicle to alert other drivers if you break down in a place where you might present a hazard. This can save someone from hitting you, saving both your life and theirs.

Inside your car, preferably in the door storage area of each front seat, carry a tool capable of cutting throughout the seat restraints. Special tools are made for this purpose but a strong knife can work in a pinch. This can allow you to exit a car that has been in a collision before the fuel tank can explore or to escape the vehicle if it is underwater. Be sure the same tool can also be used to break the glass to exit the car if the windows will not go down.

Add a general first aid kit to your car and you are ready to go anywhere safely. Always use common sense if you break down or have an emergency. Use your cell phone to call for help before exiting the vehicle if possible and always stay out of traffic.